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Dublin: 5 °C Saturday 14 December, 2019
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Residents worried about 'high-speed cyclists' on parking protected cycle lanes in Dublin city

The proposed design would see parked cars create a buffer between cyclists and traffic.

The proposed view from Fitzwilliam Square.
The proposed view from Fitzwilliam Square.
Image: Youtube

THE DESIGNERS OF a proposed parking protected cycle route in Dublin’s south Georgian core have faced tough questions from local residents who claim the plans are “entirely cyclist driven”.

The design is set to begin a four-week consultation period this month but a public information evening held this week heard complaints that not enough emphasis was being placed on pedestrian safety.

The plan envisages creating a 900-metre corridor along Fitzwilliam Place to Merrion Square East/Holles Street that would have a protected cycle lane on either side.

The proposed design would see two lanes of parked cars either side of moving traffic in the middle of the road, leaving space for a cycle lane on the outer side of the road. 

The idea is that the line of parked cars creates a buffer between the cycle lane and traffic, encouraging those who may be nervous about cycling in the city to use the protected lanes. 

The designers argue that this makes protected cycle lane preferable to a traditional ones because they will generate more cyclists. 

The layout is in place in a number of European cities including Amsterdam and Copenhagen and variations of it are also already in place in parts of Cork city.

Source: Matthew AECOM/YouTube

The cost of creating the 900-metre stretch is estimated be in the region of €786,000 to €1.1 million and it’s planned to be in place by June 2019 when Dublin hosts the Velo-City 2019 international cycling conference.

Cycling groups have been enthusiastic about the planned route but some of the residents in the predominantly commercial area aired their concerns this week’s Dublin City Council meeting.

Local resident David Gunning said that a feasibility study looking at options for the route had a “predetermined outcome” and that all of the shortlisted options were for parking protected cycle lanes. 

Gunning claimed that pedestrian safety must be the “primary concern” of any new layout and he raised issues about bike lanes “right up to the footpath”.

We have pedestrians as they walk across the footpath, and we have pedestrians as they walk across the street at the designated points, and everybody who steps off the footpath to get to their car, there’s a potential conflict there. There’s been no analysis of the potential conflicts, no risk assessment done. 

“It’s a serious issue of safety that in my opinion has been ignored completely by this particular viability study,” he added.

I’m a cyclist, my kids are all cyclists, we’re all very active in that particular area and please, we are not anti-cycling, we want this to work for everyone. We don’t this to be a pilot, a kind of half-baked pilot, which its set out to be, according to the NTA, this has got to be the real deal. Not something that’s done in a hurry to make some particular deadline for Velo City.

AECOM Ireland has been commissioned to come up with the vision for the route and traffic engineer Joe Seymour attempted to ease some of Gunning’s concerns at the meeting.

Seymour said that the design was developed using the National Cycle Manual best-practice guide and that many of the pedestrian safety concerns are addressed in later parts of the planning process.  

He added that there is no evidence to suggest that the new layout would be a risk for pedestrians.

cycl 2 The proposed layout at Fitzwilliam Street and Merrion Square.

“In terms of the risk assessment, a lot of that stuff is picked up as part of the road user audit, the road safety audit all of that,” Seymour said. 

That is a big part of the design process, which has yet to happen. In terms of the pedestrian safety, it’s an important point. We need to make sure that pedestrians are safe, we have done a lot of research into this and we have found no indication that there’s a problem with pedestrians, floating parking, and protected cycling. 

Seymour said that designers have also been working with Cork City Council to find out about their protected cycle routes and have learnt from their experiences. 

“I can fully appreciate your concern about pedestrians, but we have that in the back of our minds all the time when we design things. Maybe we’re at fault in that we haven’t written it down,” he said. 

cycling

Cycling groups

Speaking at the meeting, Paul Corcoran of the Dublin Cycling Campaign described it as a “brilliant design” and said that the new layout would also make the street safer for pedestrians because motorists will be forced to slow down on the route. 

The speed limit on the road is 30 km/h but Corcoran argued that motorist who previously exceeded that will now naturally go slower because cars are more enclosed.

“I use this street quite a lot and even as a pedestrian this new design will be a lot better. Because with the recommended design you’re going to close in the view of the streetscape for the car driver, so they naturally have to slow down,” he said. 

Mike McKillen, also of the Dublin Cycling Campaign, said that the plans represent a “standard design” similar to what’s in place in other European cities. 

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Other concerns raised at the meeting included questions about the provision of parking in the area with the plans reducing car parking spaces. 

Anne Doyle of the South Georgian Core Residents Association also expressed concern about the state of the footpaths along the route and said that she felt worried the overall plan would mean cyclists moving at faster speeds. 

“I have a problem with the fact that my understanding of road safety was that the actual primary concern was supposed to be for pedestrians, this scheme would appear to me to be entirely cyclist driven,” she stated.

“As a non-driver, by nature, my empathy would be with cyclists, but as a pedestrian with atrocious footpaths with frankly very unregulated cycling, which can make a pedestrian’s life quite worrisome at times. I find the idea of cyclists travelling at high speed, from the top of Fitzwilliam Place that down that lovely runway down to Holles Street, I find idea quite apprehensive.”

In response, one of the cyclists said that those on bikes would be in a separate lane to pedestrians anyway. 

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Rónán Duffy

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